With yesterday’s release of iOS 11, developers and users alike are still in the early stages of figuring out whether Apple’s ARKit can actually be useful. Here to add to the discourse, Ikea has released its own AR app to help customers visualize what their furniture might look like in their own living rooms. Or street. Or elevators. The point is, you no longer have to argue with your significant other inside the Swedish furniture conglomerate. Now you can destroy your relationship anywhere!
All joking aside, the app is super fun to play around with. It’s designed so you can easily swipe through its most popular collections, or filter by types of products like “Baby & Children,” or “chairs and desks.” There’s no search function yet, which could come in handy when rifling through the 2,000 products currently listed in the app. You can also tap the item name to go straight to the product listing on the website.
Just for fun, I tried it out in the elevator, where it didn’t do such a great job tracking the floor (or anything for that matter). There are plenty of people living in cramped, small spaces, though, so hopefully tracking will improve with later versions.
Trying out the app in the office (you know, the way it was designed to be used) was a good way to see if a Malm cabinet drawer would fit under my desk (it does), or if a four-seat Vimle sectional would fit in the space behind me (it won’t). Products seem accurate in terms of scale and color, but the 3D renderings still feel a little bit like decorating your house in The Sims.
Ikea previously released a Catalog app with a similar 3D visualization tool, but the UI was tiny and it required the physical paper catalog for it to work properly. It’s also questionable how accurate to scale its 3D products were, whereas Ikea Place is supposed to display furniture scale with 98 percent accuracy, in addition to lighting and shadows.
Other retailers like Lowe’s and Pottery Barn already have AR apps of their own, but they’re limited to Google Tango-enabled devices. So unless you’re the proud owner of an Asus ZenFone AR or Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro, you still have to walk into those stores to try out the demos.
Now that iOS 11 is available to download, it seems likely that Ikea Place will have a better chance of reaching more customers. Ikea’s head of digital transformation, Michael Valdsgaard, said at an app presentation at Apple’s campus last month that the app was specifically designed for ARKit because of the large audience: “Apple is the one who reaches many people.”
Ikea Place is free to download from the App Store. So far, it looks like it’s only available in the US. Currently there are a bunch of reviews on the App Store complaining that the screen flickers on a white background, but most of them are from iPhone 6 users; you need a device with an A9 processor running iOS 11 for Ikea Place to work properly. So users with an iPhone 6S and above or an iPad Pro / 9.7-inch iPad, you’re in the clear! If Apple is trying to entice users to upgrade their phones through AR-induced FOMO, it might be working.